On Tuesday, February 19, 2008, almost 200 people turned out for a public meeting on whether to preserve the North End of the K-25 building. The session was held in the New Hope Center on Scarboro Road, Oak Ridge, a new facility with some wonderful displays about the early history of Y-12. Steve McCracken, Oak Ridge Assistant Manager for Environmental Management, asked the Oak Ridge Site Specific Advisory Board (ORSSAB) to assess public opinion on whether the North End of the K-25 should be preserved. (Photo John Westcott)
DOE's program manager for the K-25 building Jack Howard presented the a litany of issues ranging from the roof that needs to be replaced, hazards of the operating floor, weaknesses in the structural beams, contaminated equipment, and safety concerns. The budget for preservation work is $26.7 million but cost estimates last June were presented at $47 million. Over the summer, the Parternship for Preservation of the K-25 (PKP) co-chaired by Bill Wilcox, David Bradshaw and Cindy Kelly, worked with a team from Bechtel Jacobs to understand the costs and come with an alternative plan whose cost is estimated to be $28 million. This plan would use just 38 percent of the North End, with the rest separated with a fire wall beyond which no people would be allowed.
Following Jack Howard's presentation, Katy Brown, director of the Oak Ridge Convention and Visitors' Bureau, Gordon Fee, retired president of Lockheed Martin Energy Systems at Oak Ridge, and Bill Wilcox, who has spearheaded PKP's efforts, made the case for preservation. Recently, both the Oak Ridge City Council and East Tennessee Economic Council passed resolutions in favor of preservation. In addition, the Oak Ridge Chamber of Commerce and sixty-five percent of the citizens polled in the "Oak Ridger" supported preservation of the K-25 North End. A dozen speakers from the audience spoke about the importance of preservation.
Considering all of these indicators, there seems to be a growing groundswell of support in Oak Ridge for preservation of the North End of K-25, one of the most significant monuments of the history of Oak Ridge, the nation and the world. The following is a link to an article covering the issue in the Oak Ridger.